628 patients in and around New York were notified this week they should be tested for hepatitis and H.I.V. infection because they were treated years ago by an anesthesiologist in Nassau County who used improper procedures for preventing the spread of blood-borne diseases. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, first became the focus of a state health investigation in 2005 after two of his patients contracted hepatitis C.
In 2005, investigators found that, in violation of widely accepted practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Finkelstein, 52, who specializes in pain management, was reusing syringes when drawing doses of medicine from vials that hold more than one dose.
He would use a new syringe for each patient. But when giving one patient more than one type of drug by injection, his practice of using the same syringe to draw medicine from more than one vial led to the potential contamination of the vials. The blood of a patient who was infected with hepatitis C could, by backing up through the syringe and entering the vials, infect another patient when the same vial of medicine was used again. Health officials confirmed that this happened in at least one case.
The patients of Dr. Finkelstein who were at risk of contracting hepatitis and H.I.V. were not notified for approximately 34 months! Outrageous!! And guess what, under most states’ laws the statute of limitations has expired thereby preventing the victims of this gross medical negligence from holding their healthcare providers responsible.